Yesterday I could hear the neighbour’s dog barking and, when I went to investigate, found a young fox on our side of the fence. The dog could smell him through the fence and was going beserk but, although the fox was obviously stressed, he couldn’t seem to get up and move away. By dragging himself along, the fox managed to move behind a sort of lean- to shed we have at that end of the garden. I could see that he couldn’t stand up or walk and his back legs looked useless. After years of watching Pet Rescue on T.V. when the girls were small, where the R.S.P.C.A. (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals) come to the aid of domestic, farm and wild animals, I know they would have been the first place I would have called had I been in the U.K. but I am in France. There are some small local refuges and the S.P.A. (Société pour le Protection des Animaux ) which do an amazing job but they are not on the scale of the R.S.P.C.A.
Seeing the fox suffering and knowing that midday was fast approaching (when my part of France closes down for two hours while everybody has lunch) I started panicking and wondering who to call for help. The neighbours suggested I phone the pompiers (an emergency service sort of like the fire department) but I thought I’d start with my vet who has just had yet another exotic overseas holiday which I’m pretty sure was financed mainly by the amount of euros I shovel into her account because I’ve got so many animals.
She told me to phone La Fédération des Chasseurs (aka the hunting federation) in the nearest big town.
The Hunting Federation told me to phone the emergency services.
The emergency services told me to phone the animal shelter.
The animal shelter told me to try to get the fox into a basket and to a vet (fair enough but there are rabies in these here parts and I’m not a trained animal handler)
The vet (a different one this time) asked me if I knew any hunters. If not, I should phone the Mayor (every small village should have one and, in France, they do)
The Mayor told me to phone a hunter from the village.
By this time, I was so distraught as the little fox had given up trying to drag himself about and was just lying there panting. My dogs were desperate to go out in the garden but I didn’t want to let them out in case they got through to the fox.
I couldn’t believe it! Absolutely nobody seemed to want to help me. I was particularly furious with the Hunting Federation as, from September to February, they will be up on the ridge at the top of our land shooting anything that moves and yet they wouldn’t come out to trap an injured animal or put it out of its suffering. None of the vets I spoke to were interested in coming out and I got the impression they wouldn’t have been too delighted if I turned up with an injured fox in a basket either.
I had no choice. I phoned a hunter from the village. Two turned up. They took a look at the fox and said it would be better to shoot him. I asked them to aim well and they assured me he wouldn’t suffer. I ran inside and blocked up my ears. Apparently, both his back legs had been broken. I had a good cry.
I suspect one of my dogs may well have had something to do with it as he was chasing something when we were out walking the day before. I tell myself that, at least, the poor fox had managed to drag himself somewhere I would notice him (we have a very large garden and some of it is overgrown and not really used) because, if I hadn’t, he would probably have died slowly of thirst and hunger.
Before I moved from the U.K., I tried to support the R.S.P.C.A. in many different ways and our lovely german shepherd, Phoebe, was adopted from them as a pup. I really needed them yesterday. I know they get some flak sometimes but I would like to believe they would have helped me.
I would have preferred it if something could have been done for the fox and I am opposed to hunting, especially with dogs, but, on this occasion, I was just so grateful to the two chasseurs who came to my rescue and relieved the suffering when nobody else would.
p.s. I might think about changing to a different vet!